Good Argumentative Essay About History Of 1954-74 United States (US)

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Youtube, War, Time, Elections, United States, Vietnam, Students, Education

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/21


Travelling in time is something my cousin Walt has been fascinated in. Given the fact that Walt has experienced none of what is touted as perhaps the most interesting era in the modern history of the United States (US) – one that ran between 1954 and 1974, he has made it a point to find a way in doing so, henceforth inspiring him to build his time machine. As a peace-lover, Walt became curious with the period in US between 1954 and 1974, perhaps to see how peace is fought for during those times. Indeed, the tumultuous years that unfolded during the second half of the 20th century has been crucial for the US, since such oversaw its growth towards becoming the powerful nation it is right now, particularly with notable highs and lows during the modern times that fluctuated between possible civil war and optimism for reforms. Verifying the foregoing, I and my cousin Walt have undertaken a two-part discussion on trips with his time machine. The first part talks about key events in US history between 1968 and 1971, which urges Walt to choose one particular historical event to visit with his time machine. The second part involves myself as I have to vote for the Presidents I support during the 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972 presidential elections in the US, also with the use of Walt’s time machine. Key to understanding the two parts is the general preference of Walt for peace and my own historical judgments on key points in US history.
I praised Walt for his work on the time machine, which he can use to land at any month between 1968 and 1971 within the United States US. “This has got to be the best decision I have ever made in my life. Next-best maybe, since I still don’t know when to land just yet.” I knew, right there and then, that Walt only has one chance at going back in time within his time machine. But if I do have to help him out, I understand that it has to be worth it. “So, when do you think is the best month to land between 1968 and 1971?” Hold on, I said, as I rummaged through my course notes on “The Sixties and Politics.” Picking a wild card, I wasted no time telling him my answer – that he should try landing on the time when the largest anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC was held on November 15, 1969. The US between 1968 and 1971 was, after all, mainly about the Vietnam War, so I was pretty sure that Walt would take interest in my recommendation (Bloom & Breines 225-286). “But I do have qualms, you know. The anti-war days are really of interest to me, but could you at least try to tell me more about the other events? I only have one shot at this, you know.” Without stalling any further, I discussed with him all the possible choices he has for his time-travelling adventure.
The walkout of Chicano students in East Los Angeles (LA) in California emerged as the first possible choice Walt has for the year 1968. The walkouts were inspired by calls for greater equality in school conditions, citing that race has been a motivation behind their sordid circumstances. Walt, for sure, would probably have supported this with his multicultural views, but then again, is the violence involved even worth for him? Julian Nava, the first Latino member of the Los Angeles School Board, himself said that “a militant path toward violence or destruction” is “the wrong kind of trouble” to stir in order to cause reforms in school conditions for Chicanos. Although Nava himself drew flak for his moderate stance from angry Chicanos who wrought havoc in the streets, he nevertheless pulled off in convincing them that violence is not the answer to their problem (Balchunas; “Chicano! PBS Documentary - Taking Back The Schools”; Rentiera). So the same, perhaps, should apply to Walt – he may be a multicultural, but not a radical seeking out violence for resolution. Then comes the second question – whose presidential campaign for the 1968 elections should Walt work in? Without a doubt, knowing how Walt is, I told him that he must work for Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign. The fact that Kennedy stood for policies highlighting economic justice as well as racial equality – matters that are completely opposite to what George Wallace stood for and are somewhat dormant from the largely anti-war concerns highlighted by Eugene McCarthy, Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, means that Walt would most likely support him (“Amazing Robert Kennedy Documentary”; Hendrickson). Yet, Walt remained unsatisfied, as he remained eager to learn more from my course notes. The demonstrations outside the Democratic National Convention was the next and last issue in 1968 I had to contend with. As I have said earlier, I tried to veer Walt away from violence as in the case of the Chicanos in East LA, but perhaps he can think differently this time? No, I said – you can’t just curb violence with violence, as in the way the demonstrators got angry over the actions of police on beating up a young boy pulling down the American flag at Grant Park that time (“A look back at the 1968 Democratic Convention”; Bloom & Breines 225-286; “CBS News Archive-Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.”; “Report from Vietnam”). Walt, curiosity burning in his eyes, telepathically told me to move on to the next year.
1969 opened on the pages of my course notes by revealing details on the Weather Underground, otherwise known as the Weathermen. Apart from the fact that the Weathermen are radical left-wingers from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, they also resorted to coercive tactics such as bombings. Although the Weathermen supported the Civil Rights Movement and opposed the Vietnam War, their somewhat violent stance over matters, as can be seen in the Days of Rage, would most probably turn off the peace-loving Walt (Bloom & Breines 361-391; Green & Siegel; Moynihan; Shane; Wilgoren). Moving on, I came across details on the largest anti-war demonstration held in Washington, DC, formally named Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, which was the very event I urged Walt to visit. The peaceful manner in which people called for peace, prominently themed by John Lennon’s song “Give Peace a Chance” would perhaps be the best event for Walt to land in (Bloom & Breines 225-286; Gillon 187-211). Although Walt was visibly pleased with the details on the event, he nonetheless asked me to continue with my course notes. Enter the Chicago 8 trials under Judge Julius Hoffman. The Chicago 8, arrested for conspiracy to trigger violence during the Democratic National Conference the year prior, went into a trial filled with tensions and verbal disrespect towards the jury and Judge Hoffman. Walt would have probably found the trial to be in bad taste, particularly because of the fact that it went against his peace-loving stance. Enter 1970, Walt told me, as he stood beside me raring to learn more (Bloom & Breines 361-391; “CHICAGO 10 - OFFICIAL TRAILER”; Feinstein; Gillon 187-211; “Kathy Boudin's Time”).
The first event that ushered in 1970 from my course notes is the fundraisers for the Black Panthers organized by composer and socialite Leonard Bernstein in a move dubbed “radical chic” in an article written by Tom Wolfe. Radical chic, in this regard, takes a swipe against the elites trying to use radical political causes, which they see as fashionable, to further improve their public image (Bloom & Breines 361-391). Walt, in his somewhat innocent notion of peace, would most likely avoid supporting such an opportunistic move, which is why I went on to discuss other events. Police violence following riots at Isla Vista in Santa Barbara, California, which led to the burning of a local Bank of America branch there, drew the entire US closer to the brink of civil war. Protesters were increasingly agitated over the fact that police presence grew in the area as defense attorney for the Chicago 8 William Kunstler was holding a talk at the University of California Santa Barbara campus (Bloom & Breines 361-391; "_Don't_Bank_on_America-SD.mp4"; Haggerty; Haiers). However, I know that I am not one to let Walt vent out his frustrations at peace through violence, even though it inevitably caused peaceful people today to think the way they do – devoid of violence and whatnot. Which is why I believe that Walt must peacefully demonstrate by all means, as he should over the brutal shootings by the Ohio National Guard against protesters at the Kent State University in Kent, Ohio who were demonstrating against the Cambodian Incursion, a move seen by many as an event that helped prolong the Vietnam War. Then again, I would not want Walt to suffer the same fate as those shot in Kent, so I would suggest that he must avoid doing it even though he wants to participate (Bloom & Breines 361-391).
Lo and behold, 1971 – the last year in a period when the US almost broke down to civil war. Walt, in his anticipative self, asked me to continue with my course notes discussion. The Plumbers, whose job is to prevent media leakages of classified information from the US government, became notorious as some of its members were implicated in the Watergate scandal, which happened later in 1972. The Watergate scandal, by the way, involved a burglary inside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) head office in the Watergate complex of Washington, DC, which involved the administration of then-President Nixon, prompting him to resign later on to avoid impeachment. If I were to ask Walt whether he would like to join the Plumbers, I would even dare to stop him from doing so, since that would lead him to breach the US Constitution as their involvement in the Watergate scandal almost blew out of proportions to cause a constitutional crisis (Bloom & Breines 392-464; Gillon 212-236; “The Legacy Of Watergate”; “Watergate at 40: A Standard and a Mystery”; “Watergate Spelled Out (Revised)”). The next item in my course notes for 1971 urges whether Walt would be interested to join the staff of then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who was invited by China for a visit on the same year. Tactically speaking, the move of Kissinger to visit China was made shrewdly to weaken the Soviet Union (USSR) and get proximate assistance to win the Vietnam War. However, I would advise Walt against such a practice of realpolitik, even though it made sense in terms of leading the US to win the Cold War in the end, given the fact that his peaceful stance would have preferred the unilateral pullout of US troops from Vietnam anyway (Hackel; Jarecki). Lastly, I asked Walt whether he would like to be referred to as a feminist in 1971, a time when the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the US Congress. I do think that as a proud moment for feminists in 1971, Walt must associate himself with them, given its consistency on his view on peace. But then again, Walt may have some more options on his mind based on everything I have told him. With that, I have now asked him on his final choice (Lister; “MakersPart 1”; “MakersPart 2”; “She's Beautiful When She's Angry”).
While waiting for Walt to give his ultimate answer, I managed to give him a summary of the period between 1968 and 1971. Summarily, the US is on the edge of civil war, mainly because of its objectionable stance towards the Vietnam War and the numerous anomalies it has figured in when it comes to civil liberties. Police brutality, in particular, have been common in racially motivated cases in the say way as demonstrations seeking to bring forth sweeping reforms. US politics have figured in a power struggle over the Civil Rights Movement, with factions supporting either racial equality or segregation. In short, there have been various disagreements in almost all parts of the US, as it also stood to inspire other parts of the world as it shifts towards democracy as the ideal model as the Cold War continued. Walt, now ready to speak, has finally decided on which month and year he must go back.
“I’d like to give peace a chance,” Walt, playfully reciting the lines of Lennon’s hit song, was finally convinced with my initial recommendation. “I understand that the rest of the events between 1968 and 1971 all had one aim – to reform the US from its broken self once and for all. However, I agree that none of those that you mentioned, apart from my choice of course, is as peaceful as I wanted them to be. After all, I can’t just not be myself when I go back in time to participate in some of the historical events back then. I want to help shape history – in the most peaceful manner ever. With that, I have already decided.” No problem about that, Walt. Ride onto the time machine now.
Perhaps as a show of gratitude for all my help, Walt, fresh from his recent trip to the largest anti-war rally at Washington in 1969, offered me the opportunity to go back in time – in each of the presidential election years in the US: 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972. I, for one, am quite intrigued with the way the US has handled its presidential elections in those times, given the fact that their encompassing period has been crucial to the formation of the US as the most influential nation in the world at the moment. “So right now, I will bring you back to 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972, so that you can vote for your presidential candidates and see whether changes would actually come forth if the candidates you’ve chosen win!” Without a word of doubt, I jumped inside his time machine and commenced my adventure back in time.
For most of the time, presidential elections in the US during 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972 were dominated mostly by either the Republican Part of the Democratic Party. Republican Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson were the main presidential contenders in 1956. I told Walt that I will vote to reelect Eisenhower, mainly because of his impressive stance in ending the Korean War and leading the US towards greater prosperity. Stevenson’s credentials were quite dubious, as it did not match any of the qualifications Eisenhower has established. Moreover, judging by the forthcoming details in US history following the 1956 presidential elections, I believe Eisenhower’s role as an impressive reformer and stabilizer is crucial for the role of the US in going against the Soviet Union (Gillon 109-132).
Oh, and proceeding to the 1960 presidential elections, I told Walt that I will support Democrat John Kennedy over Republican Richard Nixon, without a doubt. The fact that Kennedy was able to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis peacefully, plus the fact that he managed to stand out as a hopeful reformer amid the recession in the US that time, which was heavily attributed to the Republicans, makes him quite an ideal choice for me. After all, I owe much of the multicultural and liberal milieu I have grown up in to Kennedy, who has been a large inspiration to many, which is why several people shouldered deep regret over his assassination, myself included. Indeed, what could have happened had Kennedy’s assassination been avoided? That is one question I, as with the rest of the US and perhaps the whole world, have in mind when it comes to Kennedy (Gillon 133-154).
Enter 1964. Democrat Lyndon Johnson or Republican Barry Goldwater? This one is pretty complicated, if you ask me. Well, I do know, for a fact, that Johnson really had it wrong when he provoked escalations on the Vietnam War, which later made him deeply unpopular even among fellow Democrats. At the same time, Johnson’s support for the Civil Rights Movement made him an admirable figure for African-Americans – something that translate to today’s condemnation of racism and high regard to equal rights (Schulman 104-124). Goldwater, on the other hand, just won’t cut it for me, particularly with his rejection of the New Deal, which in my opinion would have stunted US growth and development in key economic, social and political areas. Thus, for the 1964 presidential elections, I told Walt that I will be voting for Johnson, albeit hoping that he would opt to stop the Vietnam War earlier (Gillon 155-186, 187-211).
1968 is another presidential election year I find pretty complicated. By all means, I would have opted to vote for Robert Kennedy, who would have been nominated by the Democratic Party if not for his assassination, given his strong stance for reform and opposition to the Vietnam War. Then again, conflict has ensued within the Democratic Party over the gradual unpopularity suffered by the Johnson administration, particularly with regard to the Vietnam War. In my opinion, Hubert Humphrey showed no promise of reform akin to that of Kennedy, since he would have opted to carry on what Johnson has stood for in continuing the Vietnam War. Nixon, amid his later controversies such as the Watergate scandal and the oil embargo by Arab nations, was successful in taking the US out of the Vietnam War, hence making him my slight preference over the rather uninspiring Humphrey. Oh, and I think independent candidate George Wallace is not even worth looking at as a possible candidate even if I had the permission to vote him, given his dismaying support for segregationist policies (Gillon 212-236).
The presidential elections in 1972 is relatively a non-issue for me, given that Nixon, running for reelection, would be a definite shoo-in for my vote over the somewhat sparse credentials of his Democrat opponent, George McGovern. Nixon definitely proved in his previous term that he is capable of moving the US forward, particularly in his initiative in ending US involvement in the Vietnam War as well as his success in establishing US-China relations. Although the Watergate scandal and the Arab oil embargo eventually affected Nixon, I still see him nonetheless as the most realistically qualified for the US presidency in 1972 (Gillon 212-236).


Going back in time to the 60s and early 70s stands out as a primary way of knowing why the US has since struggled to attain peace and prosperity in the modern time. Thus, the valuable lessons Walt has learned from me should at least serve as an inspiration to everyone to pay more attention to what history has to say towards all of us and the modern world we are living in.

Works Cited

Readings and Websites
Balchunas, Michael. “Man in the Middle." Pomona College Magazine Online. 4 June 1998. Pomona College. Spring 2008. <>.
Bloom, Alexander, and Wini Breines. "Takin' It to the Streets": A Sixties Reader (3rd Ed.). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Feinstein, Jessica. “Boudin ’03 Greets Mother After 22 Years." Yale Daily News. 18 September 2003. Yale Daily News. 16 March 2015. <>.
Gillon, Steven. The American Paradox: A History of the United States since 1945. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2013. Print.
Hackel, Joyce. “Henry Kissinger Would Not Have Supported The Iraq War If He'd Known What He Knows Now." PRI. 11 September 2014. PRI. 16 March 2015. <>.
Haggerty, Taylor. “Forty Years Ago, A Mob Of Students Stormed The Bank Of America Building." Daily Nexus. 25 February 2010. University of California, Santa Barbara. 16 March 2015. <>.
Haiers, Daniel. “Burning Down the Isla Vista Bank of America." Daily Nexus. 23 February 2005. University of California, Santa Barbara. 16 March 2015. <>.
Hendrickson, Paul. “The Essential Enigma of Robert F. Kennedy Remains, Even 30 Years Later." The Washington Post. 4 June 1998. The Washington Post. 16 March 2015. <>.
“Kathy Boudin's Time." The Nation. 28 August 2003. The Nation. 16 March 2015. <>.
Lister, Kat. “When Did Feminism Become 2014's Dirty Word?" Marie Claire. 17 November 2014. Marie Claire. 16 March 2015. <>.
Moynihan, Michael. “How 1960s Radicals Ended Up Teaching Your Kids." The Daily Beast. 10 April 2013. The Daily Beast. 16 March 2015. <>.
Rentiera, Diego. “Remembering Sal Castro, Influential L.A. Educator." LAist. 16 April 2013. LAist. 16 March 2015. <>.
Schulman, Bruce. Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism (2nd Ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007. Print.
Shane, Scott. “Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths." The New York Times. 3 October 2008. The New York Times. 16 March 2015. <>.
“The Legacy Of Watergate: Five Ways Life Changed After The Scandal." Constitution Daily. 8 August 2014. Constitution Daily. 16 March 2015. <>.
Wilgoren, Jodi. “From a Radical Background, A Rhodes Scholar Emerges." The New York Times. 9 December 2002. The New York Times. 16 March 2015. <>.
"A look back at the 1968 Democratic Convention." YouTube. YouTube, 12 February 2012. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"Amazing Robert Kennedy Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 4 July 2012. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"CBS News Archive-Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr." YouTube. YouTube, 29 August 2010. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"CHICAGO 10 - OFFICIAL TRAILER." YouTube. YouTube, 19 November 2007. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"Chicano! PBS Documentary - Taking Back The Schools." YouTube. YouTube, 30 September 2011. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"_Don't_Bank_on_America-SD.mp4." YouTube. YouTube, 8 November 2011. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
Makers: Women Who Make America (Part 1: Awakening). Dir. Barak Goodman. Perf. Meryl Streep. PBS, 2013. Film.
Makers: Women Who Make America (Part 2: Changing the World). Dir. Barak Goodman. Perf. Meryl Streep. PBS, 2013. Film.
"Report from Vietnam (1968)." YouTube. YouTube, 22 May 2010. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"She's Beautiful When She's Angry Official Trailer 1 (2014) - Documentary HD." YouTube. YouTube, 11 November 2014. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
The Trials of Henry Kissinger. Dir. Eugene Jarecki. Perf. Brian Cox and Anna Chennault. Viacom Media Networks, 2001. Film.
The Weather Underground. Dirs. Sam Green and Bill Siegel. Perf. Lili Taylor and Pamela Z. The Free History Project, 2002. Film.
"Watergate at 40: A Standard and a Mystery." YouTube. YouTube, 15 June 2012. Web. 16 March 2015. <>
"Watergate Spelled Out (Revised)." YouTube. YouTube, 21 January 2013. Web. 16 March 2015. <>

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